2001: PGA Tour - Edwards gets first-class victory

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Surrey, British Columbia

Joel Edwards, winless in his 11-plus seasons on the PGA Tour, didn’t know what to expect when he arrived to the course for the final round of the Air Canada Championship Sept. 2. He led by three, but he braced for all scenarios, preparing one speech in case he shot 80, another in case he shot 65.

By the time he marched to the final green with a six-shot lead, he knew which one he’d be able to use.

“The only way I could lose was if I kept dunking it in the water, which crossed my mind,” Edwards said after his first PGA Tour victory Sept. 2 at the $3.4 million event at Northview Golf & Country Club.

“I asked my caddie coming down 18, ‘What kind of lead have we got?’ He just started laughing. I said, ‘Does that mean it’s more than two?’ He said ‘Yeah.’ ”

Edwards made the putt on 18 for a share of the tournament record at 19-under 265 set by Mark Calcavecchia in 1997 and matched by Brandel Chamblee in 1998.

Edwards, who won the Buy.com Tour’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Open in 1999, shot 65 Sunday for a seven-shot victory over Steve Lowery, who closed with 66. Edwards won $612,000.

It was the most lopsided victory ever at the Canadian event and matched the second largest margin of victory this year.

The victory is for all the unknown professional golfers out there, Edwards said.

“It’s for the guys that are playing the Buy.com, the guys that are playing the Golden Bear. I’ve been there, I’ve played them all,” Edwards said. “Three years ago, I was playing the Lone Star Tour in Dallas, Texas. I had played out here (PGA) for nine years, and I couldn’t get a spot anywhere.”

The 39-year-old Edwards, from Irving, Texas, had never led after 54 holes, let alone won.

That all changed with four consecutive birdies on the back nine Sunday.

“I just kept saying to myself ‘One more, one more, just in case you goof it up,’ ” said Edwards, who became the fifth first-time winner in the six-year tournament history.

Edwards started his birdie run at No. 12, and when it ended he was 19 under. He bogeyed No. 16, but made up for it with a perfect second shot over the water on the tough par-4 18th that left him inside 3 feet.

After a birdie on No. 1, Edwards had his first bogey in 47 holes on the 590-yard, par-5 fourth. That dropped his lead to two strokes over Fred Funk, but Edwards recovered with birdies on No. 7 and 8.

“For someone who has played 12 years out here to finally get a win, I’m still trying to figure it out,” said Edwards, whose wife Rhonda arrived from Texas after nine holes Sunday to be on hand for her husband’s first victory. “It’s a moment in your life when all the doubt there is just washed away.”

Following Saturday’s round, Edwards said he’d have no trouble sleeping.

“I’ll sleep, no problem. It’s the eating that’s the problem,” Edwards said Saturday. “I’m not a big eater, especially when I get a little nervous.”

Edwards said there was a good chance he would be sick before the final round.

“I hope you don’t have to see that, but it could happen,” laughed Edwards.

Edwards was feeling just fine after his victory.

– From staff and wire reports

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